A fungal infection that affects the a portion or all of the nail plate.
How to Tell if You Have Fungal Nails
People generally believe that they don’t carry fungus and bacteria on their bodies just because they practice good hygiene. Fungus and bacteria are part of the normal skin flora. Unfortunately, sometimes fungus can overgrow and cause an infection to set in.
The fungus that affects finger and toe nails is called Onychomycosis or tinea unguium. Because fungal infections take time to develop, you may not be able to tell that your nails are infected by fungus at the onset. But after some time, it becomes very clear that something is amiss as the color of your nails seems different.
Why fungal nails develop
Although this condition affects both the fingernails as well as toenails, it’s more prevalent in toenails. For fungus to grow and thrive, they prefer warm and moist places. Conditions in the toenails are more conducive for fungal growth in people who wear work boots, rubber boots or steel toes shoes. The warm and moist conditions in the shoes will often result in existing fungus to multiply and spread.
Fungal nails can develop from fungus in your own body overgrowing or from fungus that has been passed on to you. For instance, if you frequent pedicure spas, the equipment they use could easily spread fungus to your toe nails leading to an infection. Such tools include nail clippers and the emery board and may even include the soaking basins as they cannot be sterilized. Always ask what their sterilization protocols are before having a treatment done at any salon.
Public pools and showers have been shown to harvest the fungus that infects the nails, so it is imperative you wear flip flops to avoid contact with the floors in these environments.
Can anyone get a nail fungal infection?
Anyone can get develop fungal nails, but some groups of people are more susceptible to the condition than others. Those more susceptible to fungal nails include:
- People with a nail injury or skin injury around the nail.
- People with toe nails or finger nails that are moist most of the time.
- Patients with a weakened immune system.
- People with poor circulation.
- Senior citizens above 65 years of age.
What are the symptoms?
Common signs of a fungal nail infection can be visible but sometimes they’re very subtle. Here are some of the symptoms that you are likely to encounter from this condition:
- Yellow or white streaks on the nail.
- Pits and flaking white areas on the nail.
- Loss of the nail.
- Distortion of the nail which may lift off from the nail bed.
- Odor from the infected nail.
Treatment of fungal nails
Toe nail fungus is very difficult to treat, it is important that you visit your Chiropodist at the first sign of any possible nail fungus. Confirming diagnosis and starting treatment right away is the best course of aftion and will provide the best prognois.
Depending on the assessment, your Chiropodist will recommend or prescribe or recommend either of the following:
- Antifungal nail lacquer
- photo-light therapy
- Oral antifungal medication
Fungal nails can be stubborn to treat and will likely disappear only to resurface again after several months. As a means of prevention, we recommend that you use anti-fungal sprays or powders regularly. Observing proper hygiene such as maintaining short nails as well, as drying your feet properly after a shower or swim is vital. Wearing a clean socks and airing your feet also helps. Your Chiropodist will also give you the tools you will need to avoid spreading it to other toes as well as to other people.